Politics and the Primary Teacher: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Politics and the Primary Teacher

1st Edition

By Peter Cunningham


146 pages

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pub: 2011-12-15
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Why is primary education so high on the political agenda, and so contentious?

Why is the performance of primary schools so often in the media spotlight?

Why should primary teachers trouble themselves with the politics of their work?

Politics and the Primary Teacher is an accessible introduction to some of the thorniest aspects of a primary teacher’s role. It aims to support your understanding of the constant changes in education policy, give you confidence to engage critically with current political debates, and consider how you might shape your response accordingly.

Including questions for reflection, and selected further reading and resources, it examines the complex interface between the work of a teacher and the world beyond the classroom walls. Key issues explored include:

  • assessment, testing, league tables and national accountability measures
  • the media’s impact in shaping both local and national views about education
  • political implications of new policies such as academies and free schools
  • conditions of work in the classroom and ‘workforce remodelling’
  • the curriculum, its purposes and structure
  • pedagogy and teaching methods
  • education for citizenship, health and well-being.

Politics and the Primary Teacher is essential reading for all education professionals who want to think more deeply about primary education, what it offers, and how children, families and communities are served by the primary school.


"A distinctive and much needed analysis of primary teaching as political activity, Dr Cunningham’s new book is scholarly and stunningly well written. It shows how such apparently technical tasks as assessment, curriculum development, and school relationships are intrinsically political, and so challenges the traditional insulation of primary schools from the larger social and economic pressures that shape their practices. Compelling reading that should transform our conceptions of contemporary primary professionalism."

Jim Campbell, Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Warwick, UK

"This excellent book provides a fascinating account of the evolution of primary education policy but also offers an enlightened vision for the future. A must read for anyone concerned for our children's wellbeing."

Maurice Galton, Emeritus Professor, University of Leicester

"This book enables readers to confront critically the year zero/ educational amnesia too characteristic of current and recent policy-making. It gives the reflecting student and the seasoned primary professional the necessary historical and political knowledge to analyse how primary education came to be as it is and to consider possible options that lie open in future."

Colin Richards HMI (retired) Emeritus Professor, University of Cumbria, and Honorary Professor, University of Warwick

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Abbreviations 1. Introduction: Exploring primary politics 2. The Primary School as a political institution 3. Curriculum: the politics of subject knowledge 4. Curriculum: the politics of citizenship, health and well-being 5. Pedagogy: a political issue? 6. Workforce and politics 7. National accountability: audit and inspection 8. Local accountability: school, community and local democracy 9. Going Forward Appendix: Politics and primary education – a recent history 1964-2011 Bibliography

About the Author

Peter Cunningham is Bye-Fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge and Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Education, University of London.

About the Series

Understanding Primary Education Series

The Understanding Primary Education Series offers a fresh approach to the key topics in primary education, combining compelling practical writing with rigorous theoretical and evidence-based argument. Breaking new ground in both established topics and essential topics which have been less well covered previously, the series emphasises the importance of research evidence, theory and reflection on practice in primary education. The series will be invaluable reading for all those engaged with initial teacher education and professional development who want authoritative accounts of issues central to working in the primary classroom.

Learn more…

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